How to rank in YouTube

We had a podcast request! Jessie is a popular YouTube adventure vlogger and wanted to know how to rank in YouTube. A GREAT topic to cover. Here are the key takeaways! While YouTube can be overlooked as a marketing tool, it is actually the second largest search engine in the world - second only to its parent company and owner, Google! That’s right, in case you didn’t know - Google actually owns YouTube. With 100 hours of video uploaded every minute, it is definitely worthwhile knowing how to rank on YouTube Being a search engine simply means people search within the channel and want to see relevant results, just like we all do in Google. It’s important to keep in mind that the platform always protects the user experience. So at the end of the day, YouTube wants to ensure that when people are searching a topic they are shown videos that are relevant to them. How YouTube knows a video is relevant to a searcher is by analysing the “cues” your video gives to YouTube - a combination of factors that YouTube uses to determine whether your content is what people want to see.
  1. Keywords - Finding relevant keywords and how they affect rankings.
  2. Publishing - Aiming for high retention in your videos shows YouTube that your content is engaging..
  3. Video optimisation - Titles, descriptions, thumbnails that increase click-through rates, and the content of your video.
  4. Promoting your video - Leveraging your social accounts and mailing lists to promote your video (the right way)
  5. Optimising your own channel page - Keeping your channel consistent and your branding on point!
While YouTube is a video platform, it still uses a similar function to conventional Google algorithms to comb through its videos and decide what’s relevant. Finding and using relevant keywords in all areas of your videos will help the algorithm decide how relevant your videos are.

How to identify YouTube keywords and use them to increase YouTube rankings

You may have a good idea already, but simply typing an initial main keyword into your YouTube search bar is a good start. From there, you’ll be prompted with popular key phrases that you can start looking at. After clicking on some of these key phrases, videos will appear that you can have a look through and compile a list from. Add words from high ranking videos and figure out which will be high competition and low competition. There may not be a lot of  point trying to rank for keyword searches that have really high competition, when you could rank for something that has equally high search volume, but less competition Another hack that is completely free, is to go to your channel, then traffic sources. Here you can see how people are finding your videos already. People may be finding you from keywords you haven’t thought about! Don’t just think about YouTube though. Be mindful of how you will rank in Google as well. There is a preference towards tutorials, reviews and “How to” videos, so using keywords such as these gives more relevance to the content and you may be able to then rank your video on the first page of Google In summary, a small amount of keyword research will go a long way when deciding what to call your videos and what to include in the description and tags. Decide what searches you want to rank for, and include those keywords in your video. By giving YouTube the correct keywords, they’ll then know how to categorise your video.

publishing with relevancy and click through rates in mind!

Once you’ve done your due diligence with keyword research and you know which keywords to include, you’re ready to create your videos title! Like Google, when YouTube is deciding what videos to rank for a search, they’re factoring in how many people are searching for a particular video and then clicking on your listing. If lots of people make a search and click your listing, it’s a positive cue to YouTube that your video is relevant. But remember, we need to keep it relevant! Titles that look like click-bait may sound like a good idea to entice someone to start watching your video. However, if your video is starts and the user stops watching quickly because it isn’t relevant, this type of behaviour will be damaging to your ranking (more on this below!). Another way to increase the click-through rate is to ensure that your thumbnails are nicely designed, relevant to the topic, and communicate at a glance that someone is about to watch a great piece of content.
This title "Spearfishing Spanish Mackerel Tutorial | ADRENO" gives an accurate description of the video as well as highlighting the brand name. Also to the left there is a good example of use of an enticing caption.

Making Engaging YouTube content is Key

Alright, you’ve done your YouTube keyword research, created a title and description that will rank for the right searches, and ensured that your thumbnail is click-worthy. Now someone is watching your video - and YouTube is getting ready to judge you on another factor - watch time! High retention and maximum watch times are our goals here! We want people watching as close to 100% of our videos as we can. Further to that, if you consider YouTube’s goal to be “keep people on YouTube as long as possible”, then it’s clear we  don’t want to post lots of very short videos, because that will decrease our overall watch time, and potentially the overall time a user spends on YouTube.
This video explains exactly what it does in the title, is in high quality in an aesthetically pleasing setting. These are all features of engaging video.
Longer videos rank better as once your user is engaged, they’re unlikely to stop watching. Again though, if your video only needs to be 2-5 minutes, don’t make it 15 minutes just for the sake of it! As a rule of thumb, whatever you post needs to be engaging and you will be rewarded by creating your videos accordingly. If people are leaving comments on your post, it’s a great time to engage with your community. We call this “being a good social business” which we covered in our blog about major Facebook algorithm updates, if you want to know more about community engagement. Like other social platforms, YouTube will prioritise multiple, meaningful interactions on content against videos that receive no engagement. If a user subscribes to you channel immediately after watching a video, this means the user is highly engaged, and it helps your ranking too. Adding a button at the end of your videos so users can subscribe is a great way to help this, should they get to the end of your video.
This comment, taken from the screenshot in the previous section, is Adreno Spearfishing being a good social business by replying to its comments. To date this video has amassed over 96K views.

leveraging your other social networks for success

An easily overlooked strategy is cross pollenating attention from your other social networks towards your videos and channel. If you've grown a healthy e-mail list over time, create a small EDM (Electronic Digital Mail) campaign to let them know the video is live. You can leverage other social accounts, but be mindful of who owns the platforms. YouTube is owned by Google and Instagram is owned by Facebook! This means that if a YouTube link is shared in Facebook or Instagram, their algorithms won't particularly like it, as it would be sending traffic to a competitor. By all means upload the video natively on other platforms where possible, so that network gets their slice of the pie.

Optimising your YouTube channel (as well as your videos!)

Optimising your YouTube channel  is also critical to your ranking. You might not be aware, but not only do you videos rank, but so does your channel! You need to treat this as another network of your overall digital infrastructure, like your Facebook page, Instagram, website and so on. Keep the same information on this page as well as keep your branding consistent.
This YouTube channel has a suitable cover image, on brand imagery, professional thumbnails and is categorised for user exeprience.
If you do anything we’ve mentioned above, but people land on your channel and aren’t sure about who you are, or it’s not a professional presence with logo, description, links, and carefully curated playlists… then you might’ve lost them!  A high ranking channel will help the ranking of your videos as well. So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to ranking on YouTube! Follow the steps above diligently and chances are you’ll see a difference in your overall YouTube performance. Let us know how you go, and if you would like to recommend a topic we should cover feel free to reach out!